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Business Startup

Joined
9 Jun 2008
Messages
1,127
LondonDragon said:
Sounds like a good venture Tom, good luck with everything, if you need help setting up the website let me know also.
I have setup a few for friends, nothing too fancy but something that works well. All the best :)

Also if you need cheap realiable hosting I know a good company, they also sell cheap domains.

Just out of interest, what's the company if you don't mind me asking?
 

teg1203

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17 Jun 2008
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62
Location
Mid-Wales, Powys
Joecoral said:
Friend of mine has a similar business, I think the liability insurance comes to either £30 or £50 a month (i forget which) and covers him up to something like £5 million (although I may have dreamt this, I cannot remember lol)

If you dream about public liability insurance I recommend a long, long holiday - somewhere warm and possibly padded. :lol:

I should imagine with water, electricity and heavy weights you are looking at quite a hefty bill with public liability. But, I believe it will be worth every penny for piece of mind. Sounds like an exciting venture Tom, good luck. :D
 

LondonDragon

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Thomas McMillan said:
Just out of interest, what's the company if you don't mind me asking?
No worries, its these guys, I have an account with them which I host various pages for family and friends: http://www.eukhost.com/index.php

Good Cpanel access, FTP uploads, good webmail interface and POP mail, MySQL databases for forums etc.. all for less than £30 a year including domain ;)
 

nickyc

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24 Sep 2007
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208
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Nottingham
Hi Tom,

George pointed you at a great source of info - there are some pages particularly targeting the East of England. There should be details of one Enterprise Agency who are contracted to provide all the business start up advice in your area - if you can't find it easily then just call them and get a referral. Although the info is comprehensive, sometimes finding the grants can be like finding a needle in a haystack! An adviser is the key to finding your way through the system. Sometimes they'll want to see that you are investing too, so don't just plead poverty - add up all you are spending already including your unpaid time.

They should also have some free training for you and possibly longer term access to a business mentor. My b/f has been self employed for years but still got quite a bit of benefit from talking things through with a business mentor as it can be quite a lonely business working for yourself.

Bizarrely it's also worth talking to the tax office these days. They now pride themselves on being able to save you money on your accountant!! I think they finally worked out that most people want to pay the right amount of tax and are happy to help you work out what that should be.

Bugs has some very sound advice! You might have to do some thinking and really go out with some ideas of how this can make money for other people.

As someone else said, I always really rate someone who goes self employed. Good luck with it and keep us all posted! People here are always full of ideas which will help you. And you've had some really generous offers of help!
 

Tom

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8 Sep 2007
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Kawanabe, Kagoshima, Japan 鹿児島県南九州市川辺町
Apologies if I've missed the point but...

...you have a car but want to buy/lease a van? Why not keep your costs down and use your car to start off with?

Spend your money on targeted advertising. You can get on the web for the cost of a domain name and some free web design I've already seen offered (hosting can be had for free too) so that's one avenue. Don't waste any money on it though - it's the equivalent of putting a post-it note on a tree in the middle of a forest if you don't have good advertising directing people to the site where you can then showcase your work.

Do you have a portfolio or are your literally at the start-up stage?

Who are you targetting as customers? If it's commercial - what are you citing as the commercial benefit? In the present climate they'll mostly be looking for a return on the investment. Are you limiting yourself to planted tanks? I think it's Elemis that has cichlid tanks in retailers stores - is there any mileage in latching on to their business for your area?

Still thinking...

Bugs - I have a car, yes, but being a Micra it would be difficult to fit any more than a 3' tank in. I've done a 4' but it's uncomfortable trust me! As I said earlier I could have the supplier deliver to the door, or pay someone (my dad maybe) to take the back seats out of the family car to help me out for now. 6' tanks will still be a problem for now though.

I don't have a portfolio yet, as I haven't technically launched the business yet. Only a couple of brochures given out locally so far. The only tanks I could have on a website, and those I have used as backgrounds etc on my brochures are my high tech planted ones as they look vaguely presentable! The problem is that they would be immensely expensive to install and maintain (more than marine in terms of maintenance) that I hesitate to have them in a portfolio just yet. I also have the low tech I set up for my parents which I can easily replicate with no problems and low maintenance costs for the client.

The main clients to be targeted at the start will be the likes of the doctors, dentists and similar places with waiting rooms (thanks nickyc!) where the relaxing qualities of an aquarium will be put to good use. This might also have a good return for me if I offer an installation at cost, just for advertising purposes. Schools can also be a target. Although they may not have a huge budget, if I push that it can be of educational use to the students, I'm sure the money can be made available. Ipswich School have already expressed an interest.

Once I start to build up my portfolio, I will move onto the larger businesses in the area for installations in entrance foyers and the like. Private clients also have good potential around here, as there is no shortage of money locally. I just need to convince them that they can't live without one ;) .

I won't be limiting myself to plants, not. If I can, I'll possibly try and steer around high tech setups until I get the experience the maintenance of clients tanks. Things like Malawis will be an idea to push for starters as they are easy but can look stunning! Simple, but not crap like some companies I won't mention! I'll also offer brackish, as they are so under appreciated IMO. Of course if the customer wants plants I will not refuse!

Seems like I'm kind of publishing my business plan online!! :lol:

I haven't heard of Elemis, do you have any contact details? I've tried google... :?

George pointed you at a great source of info - there are some pages particularly targeting the East of England. There should be details of one Enterprise Agency who are contracted to provide all the business start up advice in your area - if you can't find it easily then just call them and get a referral. Although the info is comprehensive, sometimes finding the grants can be like finding a needle in a haystack! An adviser is the key to finding your way through the system. Sometimes they'll want to see that you are investing too, so don't just plead poverty - add up all you are spending already including your unpaid time.

They should also have some free training for you and possibly longer term access to a business mentor. My b/f has been self employed for years but still got quite a bit of benefit from talking things through with a business mentor as it can be quite a lonely business working for yourself.

Bizarrely it's also worth talking to the tax office these days. They now pride themselves on being able to save you money on your accountant!! I think they finally worked out that most people want to pay the right amount of tax and are happy to help you work out what that should be.

Bugs has some very sound advice! You might have to do some thinking and really go out with some ideas of how this can make money for other people.

As someone else said, I always really rate someone who goes self employed. Good luck with it and keep us all posted! People here are always full of ideas which will help you. And you've had some really generous offers of help!

nickyc - Yes I'm now using business Link and following their business progress thing. Thinks of everything so you don't miss bits out. As a sole trader there's lots I perhaps don't legally need to cover, but it's all good to know.

I'm investing a lot of time in the startup. I'm lucky too in the fact I will have comparatively low overheads for starting up - just the necessary equipment and advertising I've already mentioned.

Thanks for your help and pointers there! Really useful, thanks again :D

If you dream about public liability insurance I recommend a long, long holiday - somewhere warm and possibly padded. :lol:

I should imagine with water, electricity and heavy weights you are looking at quite a hefty bill with public liability. But, I believe it will be worth every penny for piece of mind. Sounds like an exciting venture Tom, good luck. :D

I did put in all the details to get a quote, but they haven't contacted me with a price yet! :rolleyes: Probably thinking "and he expects us to cover him for THAT???" lol

I just thought, couldn't somewhere like Aqua Essentials help you out a bit? I thought they were always helping PFK and UKAPS out

I'll look into it. And The Green Machine if you're reading this? :rolleyes: :D

I really appreciate everyone taking an interest and giving advice! Thanks :D

Cheers,

Tom
 

bugs

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Joined
7 Sep 2007
Messages
365
bugs said:
Sounds like a plan.

Think I may have got the wrong brand earlier on. Think it may be: http://www.cremedelamer.co.uk (aka: Creme de la Mer)

Elemis is a brand - just not the one with the tanks!

Does public liability cover potential health risks associated with fish tanks (TB, Salmonella, etc)? If you're thinking of medical practitioners you may need to consider this. Hospitals (I appreciate this is a whole different ball game...) don't seem to even allow flowers any more.

Restaurants and the like seem like good ones to pick off. Perhaps you could offer lobster tanks :D
 

bugs

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7 Sep 2007
Messages
365
Tow bar and trailer may be the answer when it comes to extra large tanks. You can even get "roof" racks for trailers which allow you to carry longer loads on top of the trailer rather than inside. You could even get a box trailer if you wanted to keep everything secure inside.

I'm guessing the money is to be had on the maintenance side of things rather than installation. Once you've installed, unless you plan to expand and employ, then you'll probably get away with just using your car.
 

Tom

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Kawanabe, Kagoshima, Japan 鹿児島県南九州市川辺町
From research I've done, it seems that maintenance can be anywhere from £40 a time +. I've set my rates lower than that though, until things pick up.

My dad has a trailer, but not sure if my car would cope! :rolleyes: I can't see many of the smaller businesses I am targeting wanting over a 4' tank, so I should be OK for now - I've had a 4' in the car before. When I hit the bigger businesses I may need to sort out the trailer/van issue. Depends how the demand goes. For one-off's I can pay someone with a van.
 

bugs

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Just looked at your Flickr gallery... Think you should go in to photography - very impressed, best I've seen in a very long time.
 

Tom

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Kawanabe, Kagoshima, Japan 鹿児島県南九州市川辺町
Does anyone know any suppliers of nice rocks and wood? I spoke to Unipac at Glee and apparrently they would have trouble giving me any less than a ton in one go - not quite what I had in mind!

Basically looking for stuff like fossilised wood, mini landscape rocks, branchy driftwood, etc etc. The only trouble I can see is I would get what I'm given, rather than picking it out myself.

Tom
 

san-ho-zay

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18 Jun 2008
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98
Location
Otley, UK
I'm not sure if public liability covers that, but I would have thought so - maybe it's just property damage though... needs checking...
Employers Liability covers employees' losses while working for an employer. It's compulsory unless you are a one-man band or purely family business.

Public Liability covers other people's losses directly caused by the company.

Professional Indemnity covers you for claims against you for losses resulting from acting on your advice.

Make sure you get good legal advice putting contracts together and checking your insurance ;).

This might be useful, if you've not seen it ...

http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/ac ... 799&r.s=tl
 

Tom

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Kawanabe, Kagoshima, Japan 鹿児島県南九州市川辺町
Is there a way to turn a Publisher file into a PDF? I want to get my new brochures printed properly as it's cheaper and better than I can do myself. Trouble is, they want a PDF file and I've made them in Publisher because for some reason I found it gave a better print quality :? Is there a way to convert it? Even JPG is OK

Tom
 
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